Separate Landscape Contractor?

gaonmymindApril 11, 2012

What would you recommend:

Letting your GC do the landscaping design and instillation?

Take budget to landscape company and have them create/ install design?

Take budget to nursery and have them create a design, but have your GC install?

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We had a landscape architect do a master plan. We have a big lot (over 2 acres) and a specific look we were trying to achieve. I wouldn't have let my GC design it for sure, and he is excellent and has excellent taste.

We are not doing everything right now - saving the big expensive trees til after the summer when the planting time is better and you can get ground dug ones (supplies are limited this late in the season) - but we are doing bushes, grass, hardscape, outlining the beds and pine straw. The landscape architect has a installer he uses and everyone raves about him. We are using him. He also handles irrigation and landscape lighting, and is able to tie into a well that we are putting in. Both of the people we are using get great reviews - benefit of a small town I guess is you know who is good!

The other benefit to having the GC out of the loop is that I pay them directly, so no upcharge.

How big is your yard? Do you have hardscape to place (walkways, driveways, patios, etc.)?

There are lots of people who charge a reasonable rate to give you a plan, and then you can install as you wish. That way you have all the basics in place.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 3:25PM
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I think I will do the same. We want to implement a long term plan. Maybe even a pool in the future when the kids are older. Also I think most GC's just do basics and lack some imagination in that area.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:54PM
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We went the landscape architect route as well. We only have 1/2 acre, but I wanted a plan that could be implemented over time. Our neighborhood has really strict regulations regarding the minimum number shrubs, trees, etc that you must plant, plus sod and irrigation are required (which we would have done anyway) so after all that and the hardscape...there was precious little $ left for my tres big caliper willow oaks, big camellias, and the giant magnolia. :) Santa brought the big magnolia, and hoping for some oaks for my anniversary!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Ditto the landscape architect!! My thought was if we have a long term plan in place, we can implement it in stages and save money in the long run. Athensmomof3--you said everything I would--down to the 2 1/2 acre lot! Our plan includes the pool, a future area for a pizza oven, a future fire pit and bocce ball court. I couldn't be more pleased. This way we can go ahead and set up our irrigation to meet our future needs.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:11PM
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I'd also vote for the landscape architect. Think about pergolas, arbors, and other features to give the garden height. Also...don't forget maintenance. There's a beautiful pergola over on one of the garden forums...that has to be painted each year, so perennial vines are not an option. Getting the right materials, means you can have roses and wisteria, clematis and honeysuckle, surrounding your lovely home...if you like :)

Oh, and butterfly bushes are one of my new favorite shrubs. They're like lovely purple lilacs, blooming in late summer...and the yellow jackets love them and seem to mellow quite a bit, when around them. Just thought I'd add that, if anyone is interested.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:21PM
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And as far as the landscape architect goes, prices vary widely! Our first estimate for our lot, which the landscape architect kept calling an estate lot (even though most of it is still woods), was enormous!!! This was a big time Atlanta firm that does houses much pricier than ours and it was totally out of budget.

Our local guy, who incidentally was in landscape architecture school with probably my favorite Atlanta landscape architect, is 1/10 the cost and we are very happy with the siting of the house and walkways (which are going in now) and his plan.

You can also pay by the hour if that works better and you know what you want and where you want it, essentially.

And nini - trees for presents - love it!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:47AM
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We opted to not have our builder/GC do any landscaping. With a 1.5 acre lot, I knew they would do something very basic that I wouldn't love......... I wanted time to think about my design and what we wanted (that wasn't in the middle of our build.)

After we were in the house, we talked to landscape architects around the area...

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 11:44AM
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We had a plan done by a company, had them do some of the work and then did a lot of the rest of the work on our own. We enjoy working outside and saved tons of money.

We hired someone to build the retaining walls in our backyard when we put in the pool, but we knew where the pool would go when the plan was developed.

We are a little older now and may not do as much with this next house.

But, if you can hire someone to develop the plan and buy the plan--it's a great way to save$$$

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 12:04PM
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We had a landscape designer do our one acre lot. He charged ZERO to do the design which was very detailed as we needed to submit a landscape plan prior to HOA/ARC approval to build. We kept an idea book on Houzz, gave him access to it and requested specific plants for a natural park reserve look (we back to a nature reserve). He added others that would complement our desired look. He included design for future stages which would include a pool and my Zen courtyard and water feature. We were very happy with the plan and they will get the job.

Two other companies also provided detailed plans at no cost however they missed the mark by miles on desired concept.

Check around with well established and well reviewed landscape companies and see if they will provide free plans with quote and select the one you are most comfortable with.

Good luck with the build and landscape.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 3:02PM
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A good landscape designer/architect can really add to the value of the home and make the yard a distinctive and fun place to hang out.

Our designer also helped design the pool and integrate it with the rest of the yard for a really nice integrated and planned out look. He really did an awesome job and I know the yard will help sell the house when we get there.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:02PM
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